Looking for me / Rosenthal, Betsy R.
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
LCCN 2011017124. ISBN 9780547610849, hardcover, $15.99.
166 p. ; 21 cm.. Grades 4-6.
Fic Rating: 3
Identity–Fiction. Family life–Maryland–Fiction.
Looking for Me by Betsy R. Rosenthal is based on the memories of the author’s mother. Edith Paul is the fourth child out of 12 children. With so many children, Edith feels that there’s nothing special about her. She doesn’t know where she fits in with her siblings. She doesn’t understand why her friends love spending time at her house. She would love to trade places with them so she could have space and time to herself. When her teacher asks her to write a poem about her family, she mentions something special about everyone but herself. Her teacher wants to know where she is in the poem. This makes Edith start thinking about her place and what is so special about her. Edith earns herself the nickname of “The Good Little Mother.” Sometimes this nickname doesn’t bother her, but she can’t help but be jealous of some of her older siblings who don’t have to be responsible for the younger ones. Even though Edith longs for her own space, she loves all of her brothers and sisters. She can’t help but show favoritism to her younger brother, Melvin. When Melvin dies of bronchitis, the death hits the family very hard. She now feels like her family is one too small even with 11 children. After her last day of school, Edith is very happy to inform her teacher that her mom is going to give her money for college. This makes her realize that she will eventually be more than Edith “number four.” This story shows the trials and closeness of a big family. The book is written in verse, but tells a very thorough and entertaining story of Edith and her family. In the Author’s Note, Ms. Rosenthal states that she’s very lucky to have such a big family. Trina Chase
A chair for always / Vera B. Williams.
New York : Greenwillow Books, 2009.
LCCN 2008027719. ISBN 9780061722790, hardcover, $16.99.
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 21 x 26 cm.. Grades K-3.
E Rating: 3
Babies–Fiction. Family life–Fiction.
Rosa and her mother are living with extended family, anticipating the home birth of her new cousin. She waits in a favorite chair and imagines the baby boy whom she will teach and nurture. Once he is born, she holds little Benji in the worn chair and protests when Grandma decides to recover the fading cushions. She argues even harder against replacing the chair, recalling how hard they had saved to buy it after their home burned down. She is confident that their “lucky” chair with velvet roses will last for generations. A Chair for Always is initially the story of Rosa waiting excitedly for a midwife to help Aunt Ida’s baby “get safely born” in the apartment upstairs. Everyone is happy when Benjamin arrives, especially Rosa who feels lucky to have a brand-new cousin. Then the focus shifts to the chair that is so important to Rosa. She believes the chair will endure, she tells her mother, “because my name is Rosa and there are things I just know.” Details such as “our house burned down” and Aunt Ida “helps us with our band” seem to spring out of nowhere unless the reader is already familiar with the author’s much earlier book A Chair for My Mother. This story and the lively gouache illustrations capture the loving bonds within a multigenerational and multiethnic family. Suggested for ages 3-8 (inside front jacket), the lengthy text and roundabout storyline would be more appropriate for kindergarten and above. Nina Ditmar
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